At the stroke of midnight, Chin and Amy Kim’s baking crew arrives and begins preparing dough for a 4 a.m. opening.
“We’ll go through 500 pounds of dough on a busy day — Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” Chin said.
Once the dough is fried until puffy and golden, the decorating team takes over. At Amy’s Donuts, the usual suspects are all accounted for — glazed, chocolate, jelly. But the traditional fare is often trumped by the Kims’ out-of-the-box creations.
Those creations have become so popular that, since opening on the city’s south side in December 2013, the Kims added a second location in Pueblo a year later. Chin says his gourmet donut shop is a must-see for many tourists when in Colorado Springs.
“There’s Cave of the Winds, Garden of the Gods and Amy’s,” he said.
Chin Kim earned a degree in broadcasting from the University of Texas in Austin. His family owned and operated donut shops in the Dallas area, where he grew up. Instead of utilizing his degree, however, he would follow the trail his parents blazed and open his own shops (which he’s since sold) in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
Amy, a native of Queens, N.Y., attended Rochester Institute of Technology and worked at Texas Instruments as an engineer. While in Texas, she met Chin.
“I left the semiconductor industry and started in the donut industry,” Amy said.
“Within a year and half, she turned into the donut queen,” Chin added.
The two had vacationed in Colorado Springs and, according to Chin, there were no mom-and-pop donut shops to be found.
“There was just Dunkin’ Donuts and grocery stores,” he said, adding towns he grew up in have small donut shops “on every corner.”
Upon landing stateside from honeymooning in Europe, Chin immediately drove back to Colorado Springs to open their establishment in a former Dairy Queen at 2704 E. Fountain Blvd. Amy stayed behind for more than a year, wrapping up her responsibilities with Texas Instruments.
Breakfast of champions
The Kims said they knew they wanted to open a less-than-traditional operation, and today Amy’s offers more than 100 donut flavors, as well as sweet and savory kolaches, or pigs in blankets.
“We started with traditional donuts … and now we can flat-out say we make the best traditional donuts in town,” she said. “But we took it a step further and we’re making them fun now. We decorate them with candy bars and cereals, fresh fruit, peanut butter and jelly — things you’d never expect on a donut.”
Amy’s flavors include the Fluffer Nutter, made with marshmallow and peanut butter; the German chocolate, with pecan and coconut filling; and the Elvis, which includes toppings of peanut butter, banana chips, bacon and a chocolate drizzle.
Chin said there’s little research and development. Recipes rise from the ether.
“Amy and I were out to dinner and I ordered cheesecake for dessert,” he said. “The light went on. Why not cheesecake on a donut?”
Among their winners, the Kims said a few ideas should forever be banned to the donut hole.
“The chocolate jalapeño [donut],” Chin said. “That was a controversial one. We did crushed hot Cheetos and put them on a vanilla donut. I’ve done pork rinds. These are some we struck out on. But we’re not scared. We’ll try anything — and customers also recommend flavors.”
Chin said they use local suppliers whenever possible. For instance the meat in their kolaches is sourced from Sara’s Sausage in Palmer Lake.
“I can get stuff from Texas cheap,” Chin said. “But I pay a little more and develop relationships locally. That matters long-term. We’re not trying to stay here a little bit and leave. We want to be here a while.”
Investing some dough
Chin and Amy hope to revitalize the south side, and investing in the community is a way to cultivate success for both themselves and the area.
Day-old donuts are donated to Lifehouse Ministries, and field trips are provided for local Girl Scout troops, allowing them to decorate donuts.
Amy’s recently donated a party-pack gift card for a Humane Society fundraising event, and the business provided 10 dozen donuts for a Little League bake sale while also matching any funds raised.
“It’s not about making as much money as possible and cashing out,” Chin said. “We want to help the community. We pay our employees well. A lot of these kids are struggling. They just need someone to give them a start and get their foot in the door. It’s not just another dead-end job. You come here, you hustle and work hard for me and you could potentially own a store in the future or move into a leadership position.”
The Kims are considering opening a third location. Chin said they’ve considered Greeley, Fort Collins and Denver, as well as Kansas and Indiana.
“Because of all the tourists we get, there are Facebook posts all the time asking us to open where they live,” Chin said.
Before Amy’s, he said, north-side residents didn’t have much of a reason to come to the south end of town.
“But this shop is a destination, Chin said. “If you want Amy’s, you’re coming to the south side no matter what.”
The Kims hope their shop will act as a catalyst for business development in an otherwise blighted area, adding that the demand since the end of last summer may push them to remain open around the clock.
“We’ve seen that if you make it good and fluffy, they will come,” Chin said. “And when they come, be nice to them and they’ll be back.”
Location: 2704 E. Fountain Blvd.